|Publication number||US7393034 B2|
|Application number||US 11/651,856|
|Publication date||Jul 1, 2008|
|Filing date||Jan 10, 2007|
|Priority date||Jul 14, 2006|
|Also published as||US20080012371|
|Publication number||11651856, 651856, US 7393034 B2, US 7393034B2, US-B2-7393034, US7393034 B2, US7393034B2|
|Inventors||Thomas E. Brussard, Tim A. Swager, Geoffrey Fisher|
|Original Assignee||Brussard Associates, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (65), Non-Patent Citations (8), Referenced by (10), Classifications (6), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/486,679, filed Jul. 14, 2006, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference.
The invention relates to moveable strip door suspension systems and methods that provide a barrier that moves along a rail and a roller track in a room or vehicle. The barrier may be positioned and releasably locked into position at any point along the rail/roller track system. In an embodiment, the barrier is a thermal barrier or insect barrier, for example.
Storing, transporting and delivering refrigerated goods requires the use of a room or vehicle equipped with a refrigeration or freezer unit or other means of cooling the air within the room or vehicle sufficiently to protect the cargo. One of the most obvious examples of such cargo is refrigerated or frozen foods or medical supplies which, if allowed to warm or thaw, are no longer useable or saleable.
If a vehicle is fully loaded at a single loading site and transported to an unloading site where it is fully unloaded, problems with respect to maintaining a sufficiently cool temperature are not necessarily encountered. However, when a vehicle is not fully loaded and/or is loaded at multiple loading sites and/or unloaded at multiple unloading sites, the risk of loss of refrigeration or increased expense for maintaining a proper refrigeration temperature increases. As delivery proceeds, the vehicle becomes partially emptied. This means that the refrigeration unit then cools not only the remaining cargo, but the empty portion of the vehicle. Each time the vehicle doors are opened and cargo is removed, cool air is lost and the warmer air that replaces it must then be cooled in order to protect the remaining cargo. As a consequence, cargo that is loaded first is also the cargo that is unloaded last and is thus subjected to the full effect of the warming and cooling cycles caused by repeatedly opening and closing the vehicle doors.
One approach to maintaining the cooling capacity of a refrigerated vehicle has been to provide a movable bulkhead that can be repositioned along the vehicle's length. The bulkhead is used to close off that portion of the vehicle that still contains refrigerated goods. However, rigid bulkheads are expensive, complex, difficult to position, heavy, and must be moved each time the goods contained behind them are loaded or unloaded. While some such bulkheads have doors that can be opened, a majority of bulkheads are solid and it is impossible to see precisely what is behind them without first moving them. Further, known bulkheads in the art feature heavy mounting hardware, and are hinged such that the entire bulkhead is lifted and then positioned along the roof of the vehicle when not in use. Such doors are difficult to repair and represent a potential safety hazard should the door hardware fail.
Strip curtains that span the width of a vehicle make it possible for a person to walk through the curtain without having to move it to one side and facilitate the on-loading and off-loading of cargo. However, where goods must be loaded in bulk, such as by forklift truck, it becomes extremely desirable to provide a way for the curtain to be moved from its position stretching across the load space to enable free access to the cargo or the cargo space. Without an easily operated structure to enable the movement of such a curtain along the vehicle length and across the vehicle width there is a tendency for the operator to use the strip curtain improperly.
Another approach to providing temperature control is a curtain or door, fashioned either from overlapping vinyl strips or insulating “blankets” consisting of fabric sandwiched around an insulating core. The strips or blankets are secured along a horizontally extending overhead member. Vinyl strips are made of lightweight translucent or transparent vinyl material, allowing the cargo behind the strips to be seen, while avoiding the storage and manipulation problems inherent in the use of heavy, rigid bulkheads. Such strip curtains have been modified for use in vehicles by providing a horizontally extending aluminum support member from which the individual strips are suspended, and a track-and-trolley extending along the upper walls of the vehicle proximate the roof, whereby the horizontally extending support member can be positioned at various specific sites along the length of the vehicle (see, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,639,031 to Truckenbrodt). However, that patent discloses a locking system that can only engage with a series of holes placed at set intervals along the rail system it employs. In addition, the operator must undo the lock on one end of the system and pivot the system in order to move it to a different position in the vehicle. Such pivoting is difficult and dangerous if the operator is moving the system to the rear of a vehicle, because it requires the operator to leave the vehicle and step onto the ground, a docking board, scissor lift, or fork lift, thereby posing a safety issue. Another type of strip door, such as that manufactured by Kason Industries, is stationary and cannot be moved forward or backward inside a vehicle. Yet another system used in the past involves the permanent installation of a horizontal support member to the vehicle wall at a hinge which allows the strip curtain to be stored along the side wall of the vehicle, but does not allow the curtain to be repositioned along the length of the vehicle.
Accordingly, the need exists for a lightweight, ergonomically designed, low maintenance, and flexible thermally insulating barrier that may be positioned at any point along the length of a vehicle, thereby varying the air space required to be cooled, while at the same time providing structure that enables the barrier to be moved to a loading or storage position along side one of the trailer's side walls.
The present invention relates to movable barrier systems that can be repositioned along the length or width of a room, building, container, or vehicle, for example, a truck, trailer, railroad car, aircraft hold, cart, or van. In an embodiment, the room, building, container, or vehicle is temperature controlled (e.g., refrigerated, freezing, or heated). The movable barrier systems and methods do not require pivoting of the barrier to reposition it, thereby making it safer and allowing the operator to stand within the trailer, for example, even when moving the barrier system to the rear of the vehicle. In addition, the movable barrier system provides a wider and higher insulated cargo space.
In one aspect, the invention provides movable barrier systems extendable between two side walls. The systems includes a barrier, a transverse bar engaged with the barrier such that the barrier extends between the two side walls, one end of the transverse bar moveably engaged with a first support and a second end of the transverse bar moveably engaged with a second support. The system further comprises a releasable locking mechanism engaged with the first end of the transverse bar and the first support such that the locking mechanism can lock onto the first support, for example, by clamping it. In an embodiment, the releasable locking mechanism can lock onto the first support at any point as it travels along the first support. In an embodiment, the transverse bar is moveable along the first and second support without the need to disengage it therefrom in order to move the barrier.
In an embodiment, the barrier is a thermal barrier (e.g., refrigeration or heat), such as a strip door or curtain; however any desired barrier, such as an insect barrier, is contemplated. In an embodiment, the barrier is formed from a plurality of strips, for example, thermoplastic sheeting or mesh. The barrier may be made of any suitable material, e.g., poly vinyl chloride, vinyl, and insulating fabric.
In an embodiment, the first support comprises a rail, such as an I or T rail, extending along the first side wall.
In an embodiment, the second support comprises a roller track extending along the second side wall. In an embodiment, the barrier system of the invention comprises a transverse bar that is engaged with a roller assembly that engages with the roller track. The roller assembly comprises at least one wheel.
In an embodiment, the locking mechanism comprises a moving member for releasing the locking mechanism. The release handle may be, for example, a wand, twist rod, chain, or rope.
The foregoing and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention, as well as the invention itself, will be more fully understood from the following description of preferred embodiments when read together with the accompanying drawings, in which:
Referring now to
The first support 12 may be any suitable shape for allowing traversal by a releasable locking mechanism 24. In certain embodiments, the first support 12 may be an I rail, a T rail, beam, cable, or the like. The first support 12 may be made of any suitably rigid material that can withstand the weight and movement stresses of the strip door 16, for example, metal (e.g., aluminum, stainless steel, galvanized steel, HTP®), plastic, fiberglass, poly vinyl chloride, or the like. In an embodiment, the first support 12 further comprises apertures for bolting or screwing the first support 12 to the left side wall 2 (not shown).
The second support 14 may be any suitable shape for allowing traversal by a roller 26 attached to the transverse bar 18. In certain embodiments, the second support 14 may be a C rail. In other embodiments, the second support 14 is a trolley selected from a flat trolley or an eye manual trolley (e.g., as sold by Vestil Manufacturing Corporation, Angola, Ind.) or a track or the like, such as those sold by Richards-Wilcox, Inc. (Aurora, Ill.). The second support 14 may be made of any suitably rigid material that can withstand the weight and movement stresses of the strip door 16, for example, aluminum, stainless steel, galvanized steel, HTP®, plastic, fiberglass, poly vinyl chloride, or the like. In an embodiment, the second support 14 further comprises holes for bolting or screwing the second support 14 to the right side wall 4.
In another embodiment, the orientation of the moveable strip door suspension system 10 is reversed such that the first support 12 is secured to the right side wall 4 and the second support 14 is secured to the left side wall 2. Alternatively, the moveable strip door suspension system 10 is positioned along the length of the vehicle 1, for example, if the door is located on the side of the vehicle.
The strip door 16 may be attached to the transverse bar 18 by any number of securing means.
The strips 28 and strip door 16 may be any desired width or length to span a desired space. For example, the strips 28 may be about 2, about 4, about 6, about 8, about 10, about 12, about 14, about 16, about 20, about 25, about 30, about 35, about 40, about 45, about 50, about 55, about 60, about 65, about 70, about 75, about 80, about 85, about 90, about 95, about 100, inches in width or any width there between. The strips 28 may be any suitable length depending on the height of the room, container or vehicle, for example, about 2 feet, about 4 feet, about 6 feet, about 8 feet, about 10 feet, about 12 feet, about 14 feet, about 16 feet, or any length there between.
The strips 28 may be made of any useful thermal material, such as, for example, polyvinylchloride, vinyl, vinyl coated fabric, high mass vinyl, pre-coated woven vinyl coated mesh polyester screen, and insulating fabric, and may be clear, opaque, or any desired color, texture, or dimensions. The strips 28 may be any desired thermally insulating thickness, for example, about 0.040, about 0.050, about 0.10, about 0.15, about 0.20, about 0.25, about 0.30, about 0.35, about 0.40, about 0.45, or about 0.50 mm or any thickness there between. Suitable strip 28 material includes, for example, Clear-Flex II®, Hi-Viz®, and Scratch Guard® by Aleco Corp. (Muscle Shoals, Ala.) or Standard Smooth, USDA Low-Temp Smooth, USDA Low-Temp Reinforced, Anti-Static, Weld Screen, Opaque, Safety Orange, X-Low-Temp sold by Kason Industries, Inc. (Lynbrook, N.Y.) or strip doors such as Save-T® sold by TMI Inc. (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Verilon® Vinyl (Wheeling, Ill.), or those sold by Singer Safety Co. (Chicago, Ill.), Wilson Industries (Pomona, Calif.), or Strip-Curtains.com (Point Roberts, Wash.), for example. Alternatively, the strips 28 or strip door 16 may be comprised of a material (e.g., mesh strips) that keeps insects out of a portion of the trailer 1. In an embodiment, the insect strips 28 are mesh strips made of pre-coated woven vinyl coated mesh polyester screen, such as Air-Flex® sold by Aleco Corp. (Muscle Shoals, Ala.).
Referring again to
Referring now to
Referring again to
Referring now to
Referring now to
In another embodiment, illustrated in
Although not required to release or move the movable strip door suspension system 10 of the invention along the first support 12 and second supports 14, as it is for the system disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,639,031, in some circumstances the operator may desire to move the strip door 16 to one side of the container or vehicle 1. In an embodiment, the strip door 16 can be swung out of the way to simplify loading and unloading, in a similar manner to the “The Swinger” produced by Randall Manufacturing (Elmhurst, Ill.). Referring now to
Referring now to
In an embodiment, the strip door 16 is pivoted and then secured to a wall of the container or truck, for example, using a wire form hook 70 such as a bent wire hook, S hook, conveyor hook, wire hold down hook, hanging wire form hook, or the like, such as those sold by Marlin Steel Wire Products (Baltimore, Md.) or Keyspan (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) or other securing device, such as a tie, snap, bolt, bullet fastener, or the like.
One of the many advantages of the invention is that, compared to the device disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,639,031, the transverse bar 18 of the moveable strip door suspension system 10 is closer to the ceiling 6, providing more clearance for loading goods, especially given the angle at which they are loaded from the back of a truck using an angled dockboard. The moveable strip door suspension system 10 can also travel the entire length of a vehicle 1 without requiring the operator to disembark from the vehicle. Further, the instant invention also has the added advantage of providing more usable space for cargo, because it does not include the bar locking assembly of the system disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,639,031.
The contents of all cited references (including literature references, patents, patent applications, and websites) that may be cited throughout this application are hereby expressly incorporated by reference. The practice of the present invention will employ, unless otherwise indicated, conventional techniques of strip door manufacturing, which are well known in the art.
The invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof. The foregoing embodiments are therefore to be considered in all respects illustrative rather than limiting of the invention described herein. Scope of the invention is thus indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description, and all changes that come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are therefore intended to be embraced herein.
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|U.S. Classification||296/24.41, 16/35.00R|
|Cooperative Classification||B60P3/205, Y10T16/195|
|Apr 17, 2007||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: BRUSSARD ASSOCIATES, INC., MASSACHUSETTS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BRUSSARD, THOMAS E.;SWAGER, TIM A.;FISHER, GEOFFREY;REEL/FRAME:019170/0541;SIGNING DATES FROM 20070315 TO 20070329
|Jul 18, 2011||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
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Year of fee payment: 8